The raindrops on your windshield this morning come from a small low pressure system in the Gulf which will produce thunderstorms throughout the day. However, according to the National Hurrincane Center, there’s nearly 0 percent of the system becoming a tropical storm. There is another low pressure system off the coast of the northern Yucatan peninsula which has a moderate possibility of becoming a tropical cyclone.
The two systems combined continue to keep oil skimming efforts idled in the Gulf of Mexico, and without the fleet of boats siphoning oil, the slick has moved into coastal waters. Tar balls have washed up in Lake Pontchartrain for the first time, on the shores of Treasure Island, near Slidell. Tar balls have also been found along the Bolivar Peninsula, near Galveston, Texas.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has also reported 12-mile wide streamers of oil located 20 miles south of Marsh Island. The oil has closed fisheries from St. Bernard Parish to Vermilion Parish. To date, no oil has been reported inside Vermilion Bay.
In an effort to track the slick more closely and direct skimming boats more precisely, the U.S. Navy is sending a blimp to the Gulf. Using less fuel than helicopters, the blimp will be able to remain aloft longer and survey a wider area. Look for that big silver fish up in the sky on Tuesday.
For techies, there’s a fascinating story in the New York Times about the technical feat of drilling the relief well to make a pinpoint intersection into the steel casing pipe of the gushing well. The target is a seven inch diameter pipe, three miles beneath the surface of the gulf.
Last week, I posted a link to a website, lacoastpost, run by coastal scientist Len Bahr, advisor to four Louisiana governors with 18 years of policy experience in the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities. It generated some pretty vituperative comments. Bahr is vehemently against the sand berm project. In an editorial, posted in the Times-Picayune yesterday, Bahr outlines the nine reasons he finds the sand bars to be a dubious solution to keeping the oil offshore.
The Times Picayune also has a story comparing the cleanup efforts of the Deepwater Horizon spill with the 1979 Ixtoc I oil spill in the Bay of Campeche off the coast of Mexico. The article goes on to explore the recovery of marine life in the Gulf in the years following the spill. The good news is there was a full recovery of wildlife. The tropical conditions of the Gulf of Mexico accelerated the break up of the oil slick and the rebound of wildlife. The bad news is that the shrimpers and fishermen who lived in the town of Ciudad del Carmen, the nearest community to the spill, couldn’t survive the loss of work. Ciudad del Carmen is no longer a quaint fishing village. What saved the town and grew its economy? The burgeoning oil business.
“The calm fishing village that existed no longer did,” Daniel Cantarell, the son and grandson of shrimpers, told the TP. “When there ceased to be shrimp, God gave us oil.”
MAY 21 Gambit columnist Clancy DuBos writes about the Mother's Day shooting, and how the stages of shock and blame and healing mirror those traveled by the same city following Hurricane Katrina. The city will recover, just as it did following the storm, by reaching out to help the people injured most seriously by the event, DuBos writes. It's how we heal, he says.
MAY 21 Here's a post on the Advocate (but buried on a subpage, not on the front) that reports something Louisiana Voice reported some time ago: a top DOE official lives in Los Angeles and "commutes" to Baton Rouge. The positioning of the story caused a stir on Facebook Monday, with several posters asking if the Advocate was covering someone's hiney. Sentell's stories on DOE are notoriously soft, and this one is no different: don't expect any hard questions in here.
MAY 21 Here's another post from blogger Tom Aswell about the "course choice" program. He's already reported on kids being signed up without their consent or knowledge, and has more here: For example, he tells of a six-year-old who was signed up for high school Latin. He also digs a little deeper into the sister companies of the main one operating in Louisiana; all of them seem to have complaints against them. Stinky.
MAY 21 Given the 80 percent cut in higher ed funding since he's been in office, it's clear Gov. Jindal would rather give tax cuts to out of state companies than have a functioning system, blogger Dayne Sherman argues in this post. The cuts have been such a disaster, Sherman says, that it will take 30 years to fix what's been broken. He says he believes the aim is to shut down most of the schools before Jindal leaves in 2016.
MAY 21 Blogger CB Forgotston says there are too many elections in Louisiana, and they're costing us too much money. The proof is in the pudding: turnout for most of these nonsensical pollings gets worse and worse, CB opines, even as millions of dollars that could be spent on health care or higher ed go down the tubes. The legislature must take action to stem the tide of pointless elections, he says.
MAY 21 Here's an interesting investigative piece by WVUE on the retirement benefits of some Jefferson Parish public employees. According to the story, the taxpayers are paying 100 percent of the retirement contributions of employees who started work prior to a certain date in April 1986 -- and have done for more than 30 years. It costs the parish millions annually, and might not be legal, the story reports.
MAY 21 This post on Bayou Buzz provides insight from Louisiana's intrepid pollster, Bernie Pinsonat, on the winners and losers from this year's legislative session. But to hear Bernie tell it, there's almost nuttin but losers: Jindal, the Republican party, the Fiscal Hawks all get big goose eggs in his win column.
MAY 20 This post on The Lens takes a look at a huge (either $500K or $250K) bill that one NOLA charter now has for school lunches. The RSD says the charter group didn't fill out the proper paperwork for federal reimbursement, but the story details how the RSD didn't ensure the people running the charter had the proper training, despite requests from hapless charter employees trying to fill out forms. Either way, somebody's asleep at the wheel.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.